Summary Judgment Obtained in Premises Liability Case

Posted in Newsletters - 2014 on November 25, 2014

Michael Wilensky and Elizabeth Izquierdo recently won summary judgment in favor of a landowner in a premises liability action involving a decedent who stepped on a skylight while painting a warehouse and fell to his death.  The decedent was an employee of an independent contractor hired to paint the roof of a warehouse owned by the defendant.  The plaintiff alleged that the owner negligently failed to maintain its premises or allowed a dangerous condition to exist on the premises, or negligently failed to warn the decedent that the skylight would not support his weight.  The court granted summary judgment in favor of the owner, finding that as a general rule an owner of property is not liable for injuries sustained by the employees of an independent contractor while performing work on the premises.  The court further found that the exceptions to that general rule did not apply because the evidence established that the decedent was repeatedly warned about the danger of stepping on the skylight, and because the owner did not actively control the work of the decedent.  The Plaintiff attempted to rely on an affidavit of George Zimmerman to argue that code violations existed on the property.  The Court struck Mr. Zimmerman's affidavit, and found that an alleged code violation could not create a duty where none existed at common law.